The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2016

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Page 68 of 124

68  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2016 by Kayci Weaver / photos by Joe Weaver I t once seemed that the shops of Chinatown had a monopoly on tea in San Francisco. But now, tucked away on a quiet block of Sutter Street in lower Pacific Heights, tea mavens will find Peter Luong and his shop: Song Tea & Ceramics. Luong is as passionate about the leaves of the Camellia sinensis shrub as any sommelier may be about the grapes of their most valued Bourgogne, and he can tell you how their different vintages vary from one another in flavor, history, aroma and terroir. Here is the study of a man driven by the quest for perfection and the desire to elevate the tea drinker's experience. There was no "aha moment" for Luong in his journey with tea, which began when he started working with his dad at their family apothecary, which at the time had just 15 teas. After several start-up experiences, he left the dotcom world of the early 2000s to help his father expand the business to nearly 80 teas, recalling, "That's when it started becoming interesting to me. Originally it was business, and I approached it from that perspective. The love of the product came after the fact. I've never had that story, of the moment I fell in love with tea. It was always more about the journey—tasting things, having access to different products, good quality teas and the realization of the complexity of tea and how much culture there is surrounding it." Peter Luong's Song Tea shop is in San Francisco. to tea TAKING THE LUONG APPROACH budding boutique PETER LUONG'S SONG TEA IS A TEA

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